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Disaster Preparedness among Health Professionals and Support Staff: What is Effective? An Integrative Literature Review

Gowing, J, Walker, KN ORCID: 0000-0002-0267-416X, Elmer, SL ORCID: 0000-0001-9757-9976 and Cummings, EA ORCID: 0000-0001-6501-7450 2017 , 'Disaster Preparedness among Health Professionals and Support Staff: What is Effective? An Integrative Literature Review' , Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, vol. 32, no. 3 , pp. 1-8 , doi: 10.1017/S1049023X1700019X.

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Introduction: It is important that health professionals and support staff are prepared fordisasters to safeguard themselves and the community during disasters. There has been asignificantly heightened focus on disasters since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001in New York (USA); however, despite this, it is evident that health professionals andsupport staff may not be adequately prepared for disasters.Report: An integrative literature review was performed based on a keyword search of themajor health databases for primary research evaluating preparedness of health professionalsand support staff. The literature was quality appraised using a mixed-methods appraisaltool (MMAT), and a thematic analysis was completed to identify current knowledgeand gaps.Discussion: The main themes identified were: health professionals and support staff maynot be fully prepared for disasters; the most effective content and methods for disasterpreparedness is unknown; and the willingness of health professionals and support staff toattend work and perform during disasters needs further evaluation. Gaps were identified toguide further research and the creation of new knowledge to best prepare for disasters.These included the need for: high-quality research to evaluate the best content andmethods of disaster preparedness; inclusion of the multi-disciplinary health care team asparticipants; preparation for internal disasters; the development of validated competenciesfor preparedness; validated tools for measurement; and the importance of performance inactual disasters to evaluate preparation.Conclusion: The literature identified that all types of disaster preparedness activities lead toimprovements in knowledge, skills, or attitude preparedness for disasters. Most studiesfocused on external disasters and the preparedness of medical, nursing, public health, orparamedic professionals. There needs to be a greater focus on the whole health care team,including allied health professionals and support staff, for both internal and externaldisasters. Evaluation during real disasters and the use of validated competencies and toolsto deliver and evaluate disaster preparedness will enhance knowledge of best practicepreparedness. However, of the 36 research articles included in this review, only five wererated at 100% using the MMAT. Due to methodological weakness of the research reviewed,the findings cannot be generalized, nor can the most effective method be determined.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Gowing, J and Walker, KN and Elmer, SL and Cummings, EA
Keywords: disasters, disaster preparation, emergency management, health personnel,
Journal or Publication Title: Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1049-023X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1017/S1049023X1700019X
Copyright Information:

© World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2017

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